Q&A with former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder Ian Bishop
V2 Football had the pleasure to talk to Former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder Ian Bishop to discuss his career, thoughts on the modern game and living in America
You spent nearly 10 years at West Ham, What are your memories of your time at the Hammers during the 1990’s?
Well, initially it was tough. We were too good for the second division and not good enough for the first division. Early on, we’d come up get relegated. I think the batch of players that we had helped stabilise the club somewhat to give the club the opportunities it has today.
During your time at West Ham, who was the Best Player you played with and what was your favourite game?
The game that sticks in my memory is the semi final at Villa Park. I was Captain that year, we played Forest and a certain referee call Keith Hackett went and killed it for us after 20 minutes, he ended up sending off Tony Gale which was a very harsh decision. I think we got to half time 0-0 and we hit the post as well late in the first half and early in the second half before they scored. Once they got there first we were chasing the game and I still remember not understanding why Arsenal and Spurs got to play their semi final at Wembley and we had to play on a sandpit at Villa Park which didn’t seem right.
The memory at sticks in my mind is even when we were 4-0 down the 30 or 40,000 West Ham fans were still singing Billy Bond’s claret and blue army non-stop and they treated us like heroes after the game.
As far as the top players I played with, erm, I can’t get away from Tony Cottee and Clive Allen really for being two of the best finishers in the world.
You also spent quite a bit of time at Manchester City and you were involved in a game that became known as the Maine Road massacre, what are your memories of that game?
The picture of me and Lakey (Paul Lake, right) stands out. It was great, i remember after the game it took me til about 10 o’clock to get a pint – which sticks in my mind. I ended up going back to Liverpool, when I really should have stayed in Manchester, and watching the game on match of the day with my Dad at the working mans club that he used to drink in.
Your Man City spell ended when Howard Kendall arrived at the club. There were rumoured that he didn’t like the length of your hair and that was parted of the reason you were sold, is that truth?
Not really, I think the story stems from when I was at Everton. I always had fairly long hair, He told me to get it cut and I didn’t want to. So he threatened me that if I didn’t get it cut I’d be fined so I got it shaved at the back and sides and dyed it blonde on top which was me getting my hair cut. He wasn’t too happy about that, think we were at a friendly at Wrexham and he chased me round the treatment table with a pair of scissors. I let him cut a little bit because he was gonna fine me a week’s wages.
When I heard Howards was coming I said to Lakey “it’s been nice knowing you” and Lakey said “There is no way in a million years these fans will let you go” and 2 weeks later I was gone.
You touched on Howard Kendall moving you on from Goodison Park. That was it like at that age being at a club close to home, a big club, where you about to break into the first team then finding yourself having to go down the leagues and built your way up again? Is it difficult to motivate yourself or does it just feel good to be playing football?
Before I left school i had offers from Everton and Liverpool, but I felt my path would be blocked at Liverpool because of how good they where at the time.
To go the Everton with such a professional set-up, it was a dream and I don’t know what it was like for kids who had the same dream and fell be the way side because I only had the feeling I was gonna be a footballer and it actually happened.
So I really don’t know any different which I not in an arrogant way but my best friend for 2 years at Everton was a guy called Dave Galloways and I always thought he was a better player than me, he was a quick, two footed winger and I got keep on as a professional at 18 and he didn’t. We’re still friends today and he became a stone mason and he’ll openly admit that I had something else inside, a drive that he did have.
Howard basically had a open chequebook when he arrived and I was told that Carlisle United had made an offer I looked round the dressing room at the other midfielders Peter Reid, Bracewell, Trevor Stevens, Sheedy, Kevin Richardson and Adrian Heath and thought I’m gonna struggle to get a reserve game here and I had only 9 months left on my contract so I figured first team football baby.
Carlisle were in the second division at the time. it was difficult to leave Liverpool and my fiancé at the time but I decide to up sticks and move to Carlisle, looking back it seemed like 1000’s of miles away but it was only a 2 hours drive. It was my first away from home, I ended settling in there. The manager Bob Stokoe was fantastic; we called him uncle Bob as I used to take care of us. 5 of us lived a house about 5 miles from the ground and he would come and check we were eating probably and not drinking too much so I mean it was good times.
When you moved to Miami Fusion – Firstly did the good people of Florida find your accent?
To be honest with you the first thing they would ask is are you Australian? Then they would if I was South African? Then Irish and I’d say hold on what language do you speak and they would say English then I would say exactly.
How did you move come about?
When I moved back to City for my second spell, I made a prediction at the time that I wouldn’t be happy until the club was back in the premiership.
We managed to do that with back to back promotions, first one being in the playoff final against Gillingham when we were 2-0 down with 90 minutes on the clock but managed to level it up and win it on penalties. We went up again the following season.
I was 35 and in the premier league I was getting used sparingly and Joe (Royle) was playing a more direct game, more defensive game to keep the club in the premier league and I needed to play football. Asa Hartland came to me and said Ray Hudson who was manager of Miami at the time wanted to know if I wanted to go over and play on the MLS. I had 2 good offers at the time from Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday for to be honest double the money but Ray promised that if I had a good season, he would give me a 2 year extension and double my money to want I should have been earning. I thought I coming from the Premier League, I have no worries of proving myself in the MLS and I did, we had the best season in the clubs history.
Unbeknown to us, they were folding the club and everyone seemed to know but us. We found out about the quarter final of the play-off and there was nothing we could do about it. We lost the semi-final by Golden Goal in what they call overtime, I was sent off with 10 mins of normal time to go when it was 0-0. When I looked back at the sending off I was at least a foot away from the player.
So the club folded as I was about to sign 2 more years so I was in no mans land really, I had offers from D.C., L.A and 6 or 7 other clubs but I ended up fighting for the players union instead, ended up standing up to the MLS fighting for the players union. Probably put a small dent in it but I don’t regret any of my actions, even though I was told after that I was blackballed so I went back home and bought a pub.